On Hardball, Chris Matthews did not challenge Sen. Susan Collins' claim that the economic recovery bill included "spending that had nothing to do with creating jobs, turning our economy around, or providing relief to the American taxpayers." In fact, in its analysis of the House and Senate versions of the bill, the Congressional Budget Office stated that it expects both measures to "have a noticeable impact on economic growth and employment in the next few years."
In the Financial Times, columnist Martin Wolf, addressing Obama's handling of the unfolding financial crisis, writes:
Has Barack Obama's presidency already failed? In normal times, this would be a ludicrous question. But these are not normal times.
I had to chuckle. Wolf prefaced his comments by ackowleding it normally would be "ludicrous" for a pundit just weeks into a new president's term to declare it a failure. Sheer madness.
What Wolf should have suggested was that it would be ludicrous for a pundit just weeks into a new Republican president's term to declare it a failure. Because that truly is crazy talk. Nobody in the press would ever air such an insulting claim. But when it comes to declaring Democratic presidents to be complete failures just weeks into their tenure, that's old habit by now.
See, members of the press did the same thing back in 1993, the last time a new Democratic president arrived in the White House. As I noted in a November column:
On January 31, 1993, 12 days after Clinton had been sworn into office, Sam Donaldson appeared on ABC and made this jarring announcement: "Last week, we could talk about, 'Is the honeymoon over?' This week, we can talk about, 'Is the presidency over?' " (At the time, Clinton's approval rating hovered around 65 percent.)
I'm chuckling again reading about Clinton's 65 percent approval rating at the time of the media's failed presidency meme: Isn't that the exact same approval rating Obamaacknowledging enjoys today?
Get a load of these "some say" and "most Republicans oppose" questions:
"Some people say that the nearly one trillion dollars in debt and subsequent interest incurred by the stimulus bill during an economic downturn will make the recovery hard to achieve. Do you agree or disagree?"
"Some Republicans say the Obama stimulus package spends too much and stimulates too little. Do you agree or disagree?"
"Most Republicans oppose the currently proposed stimulus bill supported by President Obama because they say there is too much money being spent for non-stimulus items. Do you agree or disagree that too much money is being spent on items that won't improve the economy?"
How loopy is the poll, done in conjunction with something called ATI-News? It doesn't even register the response among Democrats. It only measure answers from Republicans and Independents. (At least, that's what the press release does.)
Naturally right-wingers are pushing the "Zogby poll," but if a single news organization runs with this data it will be a disgrace.
UPDATE: As we learn from the ConWebBlog:
ATI News is merely an aggregator of other news websites and generates no original content, and O'Leary is author of the WorldNetDaily-published Obama-bashing speculative fantasy "The Audacity of Deceit." So O'Leary clearly has a biased agenda to push, as if the Zogby poll he commissioned wasn't evenough proof of that.
We noted this earlier; this media meme about how Obama shouldn't be saying all these bad things about the economy. And that he's trying to scare people into supporting his stimulus bill. We also detailed how Americans, according to the polling data, have pretty much been freaked out of their minds about the economy for months, and long before Obama began talking about passing legislation.
At FDL, they caught the fact that the AP's Jennifer Loven played that same card during Obama's primetime presser [emphasis added]:
Thank you, Mr. President. Earlier today in Indiana, you said something striking. You said that this nation could end up in a crisis without action that we would be unable to reverse. Can you talk about what you know or what you're hearing that would lead you to say that our recession might be permanent when others in our history have not? And do you think that you risk losing some credibility or even talking down the economy by using dire language like that?
Ugh. What had Obama been hearing that led him to use "dire language" about the country's economic crisis? Honestly, if Loven doesn't know, she shouldn't be asking questions at the WH.
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The Wall Street Journal's Stephen Moore and Fox News anchors Bill Hemmer and Megyn Kelly promoted the falsehood -- which first appeared in a Bloomberg "commentary" by Betsy McCaughey and was subsequently promoted by Rush Limbaugh and Matt Drudge -- that the economic recovery bill includes a provision that would, in Moore's words, "hav[e] the government essentially dictate treatments." Limbaugh later took credit for spreading this story.
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As Washington Monthly's Steve Benen notes, former Arkansas Governor and current Fox News host Mike "Huckabee doesn't know what he's talking about."
Perhaps Politico should have taken that into consideration before uncritically repeating Huckabee's false claim that the economic recovery package is "anti-religious." Though the provision Huckabee cited is correct -- the bill would not provide money to be used on a religious "school or department of divinity" -- Politico did not note that, contrary to Huckabee's suggestion that this provision is a consequence of the liberal trifecta of Pelosi-Reid-Obama, such provisions were included in bills passed when the Republicans were in the majority, as Media Matters has noted.
Look, if Mike Huckabee doesn't like the stimulus bill, fine. But to tell people the legislation is "anti-religious" is just insane. Or, to put it another way, Huckabee is bearing false witness, which as he may have heard, is generally frowned upon.
Regular readers know the story by now, but if you're just joining us, this myth has been making the rounds in right-wing circles for about a week. Originally, the American Center for Law and Justice, a right-wing legal group formed by TV preacher Pat Robertson, said the stimulus bill includes a provision that would prohibit "religious groups and organizations from using" buildings on college campuses. Soon after, religious right groups and right-wing blogs were up in arms, demanding that lawmakers fix the "anti-Christian" language of the bill. Fox News and the Christian Broadcasting Network helped get the word out to the far-right base about the nefarious measure. Sen. Jim DeMint (R-S.C.) actually tried to have the provision removed from the bill.
There was, however, one small problem: there was no such measure. The ACLJ doesn't know how to read legislation, and didn't realize that the standard language in the bill simply blocks spending for on-campus buildings that are used primarily for religion (like a chapel, for example). This same language has been part of education spending bills for 46 years. It's just the law, and it's never been controversial.
A New York Times essay by Jason DeParle highlighted a resurgence of the use of the word "welfare" among conservatives, this time to attack President Obama's economy recovery plan. Indeed, while economists agree that provisions in the legislation targeting needy people are among the most economically stimulative, Media Matters documents below the pervasiveness of what DeParle called the "weaponiz[ation]" of the "very word, welfare," in the media, particularly, but not exclusively on Fox News, to denounce the stimulus bill.
In purporting to "take a look back" at how the economic recovery plan "grew, and grew, and grew," Fox News' Jon Scott referenced seven dates, as on-screen graphics cited various news sources from those time periods -- all of which came directly from a Senate Republican Communications Center press release. A Fox News on-screen graphic even reproduced a typo contained in the Republican press release.
...their latest assault on reality, echoed by Limbaugh's cadres in Congress: The New Deal Was A Failure. Franklin D Roosevelt won his first term against a pillar of Republicanism, incumbent reactionary Republican Herbert Hoover. Hoover managed to garner 59 electoral votes against FDR's 472. At that point Roosevelt embarked upon the most successful economic recovery plan in the history of the United States, the New Deal, meant to lift the country out of the Depression that decades of unregulated right-wing economic policies had caused.
When Roosevelt ran for re-election in 1936, his opponent, Kansas Governor Alf Landon, a tax cuttin' anti labor union fanatic, only managed to win two states, Maine and Vermont (8 electoral votes). He even lost Kansas. FDR's 523 electoral votes also saw the Republican Senate caucus drop down 16 members. In the House the GOP managed to hold onto 88 seats (20%). Although Republicans were screaming the same tired anti-working family nonsense then that they're screaming now, the voters, cognizant of their unblemished record of dismal failure, were ignoring them.
In 1940 the GOP candidate, Wendell Wilkie, campaigning on a platform calling the New Deal inefficient and corrupt and not subservient enough to Big Business, led the GOP to another well-earned electoral catastrophe. The only states he won were Maine, Vermont, Michigan, Indiana, Iowa, North Dakota, South Dakota, Nebraska, Kansas, and Colorado, for a total of 82 electoral votes (to Roosevelt's 449). Roosevelt's last run, in 1944, was against Thomas Dewey, who wound up with 99 electoral votes (to FDR's 432) after he added "communism" to the charges Wilkie had run on against the New Deal.
My column this week was on this very subject. If you've not yet seen this great video of MSNBC's David Shuster and Newsweek's Jonathan Alter discussing right-wing attacks on the New Deal, check it out: